CASDA dazzles in New YearNorthland residents can dust off their dancing shoes and pull that tux out of storage.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Northland residents can dust off their dancing shoes and pull that tux out of storage.
The Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse is ringing in the New Year with a Dance to End Abuse, and everyone’s invited.
“The ball has officially rolled here for New Year’s Eve,” said Erika Leif, CASDA assistant director. “We’re just very excited.”
The benefit fills a Northland void.
For years, nearly 2,000 people gathered for the SMDC New Year’s Eve Extravaganza at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. But 2007 was the last time the event was held.
“It came down to budgetary reasons,” said Missy Francisco-Carlson, spokeswoman for SMDC and former coordinator of the event. “What we do here is take care of patients.” And that came first.
But, Francisco-Carlson admitted, she missed the glittery gala. And she was surprised that no one took the initiative to hold their own event last year.
“It’s a void begging to be filled,” said Mary Tripp, marketing and business advisor with the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College of Superior. “There are still people who want to go out someplace New Year’s Eve where they can dress up and do a little dancing.”
She told that to Geof Wendorf, vice president of the CASDA board of directors, who passed it on. At the time, CASDA employees and board members were looking for creative new fundraisers. They chose to hold a comedy night benefit in August, Leif said, and launch a New Year’s Eve dance. The event runs 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Dec. 31 at Barker’s Island Inn. It will include live music from the Junction Band, a silent auction, hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. There may even be games during band breaks, Leif said.
To coordinate the event, CASDA again turned to WITC. Heather Thompson, a second year marketing student, was chosen to coordinate the fundraiser for her internship project.
“I was brought in to keep everything organized,” said Thompson, of Superior. She was tasked with organizing the silent auction, communicating with the event’s radio sponsor, KOOL 101.7, and serving as the contact person for volunteers.
“I have learned so much from this project,” Thompson said. “How to meet deadlines, communication skills … I’ve learned patience.”
Time management was the biggest challenge for Thompson, who holds down a job as well as being a student and mother. She credited her classmates Luke Mertz, Michael Soger and Whitney DeWall for their help. Every time they were assigned a task, she said, they did it.
The poster, billboard and bookmarks advertising the event were created with the help of WITC students in Amy Pozniak’s business graphics and administrative assistant program.
Real-world experiences like these are crucial for WITC students, Tripp said.
“It brings what we teach in the classroom to reality,” she said. Event planning, organization and the importance of meeting deadlines really sink in.
Thompson was glad to take the lead, especially when she heard who would benefit.
“CASDA is such an important organization,” she said. “The need keeps growing, which is unfortunate.”
According to Leif, CASDA worked with 502 individuals in person during 2008. They’ve already exceeded that number for 2009.
“We’re still seeing a demand for services,” she said, which include emergency shelter, short-term counseling, support groups, advocacy and legal services for survivors of sexual or domestic abuse.
Thompson said she hopes the New Year’s Eve dance will raise awareness and funds for the organization.
It’s also given staff something new to chat about, Leif said.
“We’ve all been talking about what we’re going to wear,” she said, from dresses to jewelry. The event is semi-formal, she said, but dancers in tuxes and ballgowns are welcome. The band’s playlist ranges from 1960 to 1980, including a polka or two.
“The music they know you can get up and dance to,” Leif said.
Silent auctions items have been pouring in. They include unique opportunities such as a chance to skydive with Superior Skydiving, a certificate for free tuition at Elite Driving School and an afternoon sailboat cruise on Lake Superior for up to four people.
Many local businesses have also begun to reserve tables for the event, Leif said. She encouraged anyone interested in dancing their way into the New Year with CASDA to reserve tickets ahead of time. The cost is $45 per person. Reservations can be made by calling Barker’s Island at (715) 392-7152 or by credit card at CASDA, (715) 392-3136.